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Vegan Stuffed Eggplant

This vegan stuffed eggplant is roasted in the oven so the veggies get caramelized and delicious!

vegan stuffed eggplant

Sometimes when I make a vegan dinner, I brace myself for complaints from my diners. When I say my “diners” I mean my family. And when I say complaints I mean I get grunts and groans because there’s no “real food” and “not enough protein.” This is B.S. But, I aim to please, so I’ve been working on more filling and “meatier” vegan recipes. This vegan stuffed eggplant is a crowd pleaser.

When I made this recipe last week, I knew the time was right because Steve had just come home from a guys trip and I know when he comes home from one of these trips, he feels like he needs to clean up his act and eat healthy. So, call me a chicken, but I waited for this time to test out this recipe on him. It worked like a charm. He loved it so much that he even took some of the leftovers with him for lunch the next day. In my book, that’s a big win!

I am not a big fan of meat substitutes. I just don’t appreciate faux foods, I guess. I see lots of recipes that look awesome using faux meat products, but I’d almost always rather eat my meals without them. And, I don’t like to eat a lot of soy, so I shy away from tofu.

I do, however, love eggplant. Eggplant, when cooked well, is as satisfying as meat.

This eggplant dish is filling, delicious, healing, and fills the need for “meat” that my non-vegan eaters look for. And I hid some semi-spicy peppers in the mix, so there are some delicious surprises inside.

In Chinese medicine, we use eggplant to help reduce inflammation, lessen pain, and smooth your digestion. What a delicious way to heal…

The filling here is made with lots of tomatoes and peppers and onions and it is amazing. The stuffed eggplant roasts in the oven and the tomatoes get caramelized and sweet. I melted some vegan mozzarella on some of these vegan stuffed eggplant and I left some plain. Melting the cheese really took them up a level… OMG this is so good!

For another crowd-pleasing eggplant recipe, try my Paleo Eggplant Meatballs.

vegan stuffed eggplantvegan stuffed eggplant

Here are some of the healing ingredients in this vegan stuffed eggplant recipe:

In eastern medicine, eggplant is added to the diet when there is pain in the body because it’s great for relieving pain and reducing swelling. It’s especially good to eat eggplant when you are experiencing some nasty digestive issues. It relieves stomach pain, helps with dysentery, diarrhea, and painful urinary conditions. Eggplant has also been used topically to treat frostbite and canker sores… talk about a multi-tasking vegetable…

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. In the winter, I eat lots and lots of onions… I guess I should feel sorry for the people close to me! During cold and flu season, I recommend onions to everyone, and in lots of ways and forms; they actually can rid the body of bacteria.

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections.

It is true that spinach contains iron, but it’s this vegetable’s lesser-known qualities that really hold my admiration. Spinach contains a substance that helps eliminate prostate cancer. It’s also great for your bones and also for memory loss. Diabetic patients may find that eating spinach helps combat excessive thirst and can even be good for night blindness. Spinach can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so calcium-rich foods should be avoided when eating this leafy green.

vegan stuffed eggplant

Vegan Stuffed Eggplant
Author: 
Recipe type: eggplant, main dish, vegetables, vegan, paleo, vegetarian
Cuisine: recipe inspired by: The Iron You
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is a vegan main dish that even meat eaters will love. It gets roasted in the oven, so the veggies get caramelized and sweet... it's so good!
Ingredients
  • 4 slender eggplants
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more from brushing the pan
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups baby spinach, torn into pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ¼ cup jarred sliced pepperonci or banana peppers
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • dried hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Slice the eggplants lengthwise until they are almost sliced all the way through, but not all the way through.
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt onto each half of eggplant, then place them in a colander and let them sit for 30 minutes (this helps remove some of the water and bitterness from the eggplant).
  4. Place the eggplants, partially opened, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and then place them in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbs oil.
  6. Add the onion, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, peppers, and tomato paste to the skillet and sauté, stirring until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in the coconut sugar and red pepper flakes.
  8. Open the eggplants so they are butterflied, and place them in a baking dish.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  10. Spoon the filling evenly into the eggplant.
  11. Roast in the oven for 45 mins. (If using vegan cheese, slice some up and tuck it into the eggplants when there is about 10 mins of cooking time remaining.)

vegan stuffed eggplant

Baked Eggplant Chickpea Skillet

I was craving veggies, but also comfort food… so I made this baked eggplant chickpea skillet for dinner. It’s like a cross between eggplant parm and a Moroccan chickpea stew and it hits all the right spots!
baked eggplant chickpea skillet

I’m not sure why, but every time I see a food described as a “skillet” I think it must be awesome. I’m a sucker for any type of breakfast skillet on any menu anywhere. So, when I have the chance to actually describe one of my dishes as a skillet, you can be sure I’m going to go for it. So, here’s my baked eggplant chickpea skillet.

People always ask me: “What are you?” in terms of my diet. I’m not sure what to answer anymore except that “I’m whatever is good for me at the time.” Last week I was on a meat kick and I made a huge meatloaf and a chicken curry dish and the biggest piece of salmon you’ve ever seen. The best part was that this big protein-fest made for the best leftovers ever. But now, I still have some left in the fridge, and I really can’t even look at it anymore. I mean, there’s only so many times I can eat the same thing no matter how many creative ways I re-invent it. And some of the ingredients I used aren’t dog friendly… ugh. Note to self: scale down on the number of servings!

Last night was my niece’s engagement party. It was soooo nice. A few of us wanted to eat a light dinner beforehand so we wouldn’t pig out on all of the enticing appetizers. I opened the fridge, looked in, saw all of the same food, and I just couldn’t do it. I so wished I had already made this baked eggplant chickpea skillet so that we could sit there with a bunch of forks and dig into that skillet! (By the way, the Poke bowls we ended up ordering in were so good!)

This week I’m feelin’ the veggies and I want to cook some vegan dishes, and even though I wished this food had been ready to eat last night, I’m happy it’s here today! This dish is healthy, clean, and comforting all at the same time. The first time I made this dish it was because I had seen a recipe for an eggplant and chickpea casserole from The New York Times and I just had to make a version of it.

Did you know that in Chinese medicine we use chickpeas to elevate the mood? Haha, I know that’s a pretty random thought here, but I just think it’s so awesome… And, this dish did make me happy…

It’s not quite prime farmers market season yet here in New York, so when I shopped for this dish I went to Whole Foods. They had more different types of eggplant than I’ve ever seen in one place. And they were so pretty. It took me awhile to choose which ones I wanted but I ended up choosing some long thin, light purple Japanese eggplants because there are no bitter seeds and the skin is really thin and not too noticeable. If you have a picky eggplant eater, I highly recommend this variety.

But… ooh, the white and neon purple striped eggplants… oh my! They are just so pretty. I’ll have to try those next time…

If you are a skillet freak like I am, you should also try my recipe for Vegan Skillet Zucchini Parmesan.

baked eggplant chickpea skilletbaked eggplant chickpea skillet

Here are some of the awesome things this baked eggplant chickpea skillet can do for you:

In eastern medicine, eggplant is added to the diet when there is pain in the body because it’s great for relieving pain and reducing swelling. It’s especially good to eat eggplant when you are experiencing some nasty digestive issues. It relieves stomach pain, helps with dysentery, diarrhea, and painful urinary conditions. Eggplant has also been used topically to treat frostbite and canker sores… talk about a multi-tasking vegetable…

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections.

Chickpeas actually help calm the spirit. They relieve anxiety and soothe irritability… it kind of makes you realize why hummus is so popular…

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. In the winter, I eat lots and lots of onions… I guess I should feel sorry for the people close to me! Recently, I recommended that a patient with bronchitis put sliced raw onions in her socks when she went to sleep… she woke up so much better; they actually can rid the body of bacteria. (I know I’ve told you this before, but it really is awesome!) Onion is a superhero in the food world!

Basil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities. It also is good for settling your stomach, and it’s good at lessening the symptoms of the common cold and its accompanying cough. Basil is a spiritual herb — the scent actually calms you; you can boil some in a pot and let the aroma fill the air, you can just leave some around the house, you can toss a bunch in your bath water (I love to do this), or you can use an essential oil with basil to get some great calming effects.

baked eggplant chickpea skilletbaked eggplant chickpea skillet

Baked Eggplant Chickpea Skillet
Author: 
Recipe type: stew, skillet, vegan, Moroccan, paleo
Cuisine: recipe adapted from: The New York Times
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This dish is warming, comforting, healing, and it's vegan. The sauce is slightly Moroccan in flavor and it compliments the eggplant so well. And it comes in a skillet!
Ingredients
  • 3 medium, thin, Japanese eggplant, sliced in half vertically, then sliced horizontally into ¼- to ½- inch thick half moons
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the eggplant
  • For sauce:
  • 1 medium onion, cut in ½, then sliced thin
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste (I love this one -- it comes in a jar!)
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (here's an organic one)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (here's a good brand)
  • additional basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Brush the foil with some oil.
  4. Lay the eggplant out on the oiled foil. Brush the eggplant with more oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 mins.
  6. Remove the tray from the oven, fold up the foil around the eggplant, crimping all sides so that the eggplant is completely enclosed, and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce:
  9. Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. (If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, use a regular one and then before you put it in the oven, transfer everything to a baking dish.)
  10. Add the onion to the skillet, and saute until it begins to soften, about 3 mins.
  11. Add the crushed garlic, and saute, stirring, 30 seconds.
  12. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  13. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients, except the chickpeas, stir to combine, and simmer, uncovered, 15 mins.
  15. Stir in the chickpeas and the eggplant.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 50 mins.
  17. Remove the wilted basil leaves, if you want (I actually like to eat them) and replace them with fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional).

baked eggplant chickpea skillet

Paleo Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant reduces pain and inflammation… I know that my over 40 body (okay… waaaayyyy over 40) needs that… don’t you?

paleo eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I have tried, and failed, to make a delicious, healthy, paleo, vegan, grain-free version for so long that I can’t even remember when this obsession started. But today, I can finally say: TA-DA! I did it. This paleo eggplant parmesan is perfect. For real. And not just by my ridiculously healthy standards. But by everyone’s standards.

And now I feel unstoppable. Because I am going to be making zucchini parmesan next. And who knows what will follow.

I think the artwork hanging in my kitchen helped me with this recipe. I mean, when you look at a colorful canvass of The Hulk smashing rocks, it kind of makes you feel all-powerful. Or, maybe it was the awesome paleo wine that I was sipping. But, what-evuh…

The eggplant in this dish is thinly sliced and crispy with a deliciously traditional texture. The sauce is a little sweet and a little spicy and it screams Southern Italy. The cheese is vegan, but I’ve found the most delicious vegan mozzarella ever, so even this part of the dish passed muster by my non-vegan, and often overly-critical, family.

Here in New York, it’s cold and it’s damp. And it’s dark out at 4:30. Wow, do I hate these short days. But let me say, that a big dish of this paleo eggplant parmesan just makes it all right. I think it even tastes better on these cold, dark, and dreary days…

For another great eggplant dish, try my recipe for Vegan Fettuccine Bolognese.

paleo eggplant parmesanpaleo eggplant parmesan

Here are some of the reasons you need to make this paleo eggplant parmesan:

In eastern medicine, eggplant is added to the diet when there is pain in the body because it’s great for relieving pain and reducing swelling. It’s especially good to eat eggplant when you are experiencing some nasty digestive issues. It relieves stomach pain, helps with dysentery, diarrhea, and painful urinary conditions. Eggplant has also been used topically to treat frostbite and canker sores… talk about a multi-tasking vegetable…

In Asian medicine, nuts are known to be good for your brain, heart, skin and reproductive system. Almonds are particularly nutritious. They are a good source of protein and they give you energy. And, they are gluten-free. Almonds will help relieve a cough and asthma and are also good for constipation. This recipe uses almond flour to coat the eggplant slices. This makes for a healthy, crispy coating.

Oregano is a powerful antioxidant and it is great at fighting bacteria. It’s also known as an herb that brings joy and happiness to people. I even just bought a bottle of oregano essential oil and I put a drop in our smoothies or water when anyone has a cold… it works great!

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections. The tomato sauce in this recipe is delicious, so I suggest making double the amount so you can freeze a batch.

paleo eggplant parmesan

Paleo Eggplant Parmesan
Author: 
Recipe type: casserole, paleo, vegan, dairy-free, grain-free, comfort food
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This dish tastes just as good as a traditional, non-healthy, great eggplant parmesan. But this one's paleo and vegan. This is my favorite creation yet!
Ingredients
  • 3 medium thin eggplants (I used some Japanese ones), sliced thin vertically (so you end up with long, thin slices)
  • 2 Tbs flax meal whisked into 6 Tbs water (or substitute 2 eggs, beaten and mixed with 2 Tbs water)
  • 1-1/2 cups almond meal
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 Tbs coconut sugar
  • 4 oz thinly sliced vegan mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup vegan Parmesan cheese shreds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the egg and water mixture into a shallow pie plate or dish.
  3. In a second shallow dish, combine the almond meal with the oregano and some salt and black pepper.
  4. Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mixture and flip to coat well.
  5. Then dredge each piece in the almond flour mixture, again turning to coat well.
  6. Place the dredged slices on parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer, making sure they are not touching each other.
  7. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then flip the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the slices start to get crisp and golden brown. (Note: all ovens are different, so check your slices occasionally to make sure they don't cook too quickly.)
  8. Meanwhile make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, coconut sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. When the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 350°F.
  10. Ladle some sauce into the bottom of a 13x11 baking dish (or a dish close to that size).
  11. Arrange eggplant slices over the sauce, putting them close to each other but not overlapping much.
  12. Spread some sauce over the eggplant. Layer some mozzarella over the sauce. Repeat with a second layer (and a third layer if you have extra eggplant).
  13. After you add your final layer of eggplant, finish with sauce, then mozzarella, and then sprinkle on the Parmesan.
  14. Bake for 20 minutes.
  15. Enjoy!

paleo eggplant parmesan

Vegan Fettuccine Bolognese

This vegan fettuccine bolognese is a great alternative to a meaty pasta sauce!

vegan fettuccine bolognese

Whenever I make a pasta dish, it’s almost always a paleo-friendly pasta recipe because I feel better when I don’t eat grains. But, I do feel better when I eat pasta (for me, it’s the most comforting food around… and, I mean, really, who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta…?). I’m never sure whether to call the recipe “Paleo Pasta” or just call it “Pasta”.  I know this sounds trivial, but really, I get stuck with this each and every time.

Now, this recipe (which by the way is sooooo delicious), is vegan and it’s paleo. When I first typed in the title, it was “Vegan Paleo Fettuccine Bolognese”, but that’s just too long and complicated for a recipe that’s easy to make. So, for this recipe I decided to use vegan, and omit paleo. I’m still not sure that’s the best title, but I guess this dilemma falls under the category of champagne problems…

Anyway, I used one of my favorite grain-free pastas (Cappello’s fettuccine), and I made an awesome vegan bolognese sauce by using my favorite recipe for simple marinara sauce and adding tons of finely chopped mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini.

I’ve learned that often when I make a vegan recipe, my guests love it, but sometimes I see wary expressions on the faces of the meat eaters if I call it something with a traditional meaty name (like bolognese). But this time, the meat eaters enjoyed this vegan fettuccine bolognese so much, the meaty name was just perfect. Try this out the next time you want to cook something to both vegans and non-vegans… it’s just perfect!

If this recipe is your cup of tea, you must also try my Paleo Fettuccine Alfredo!

vegan fettuccine bolognese

Along with all of this deliciousness, you also get great healing benefits from this recipe:

In Eastern medicine, eggplant is added to the diet when there is pain in the body because it’s great for relieving pain and reducing swelling. It’s especially good to eat eggplant when you are experiencing some nasty digestive issues. It relieves stomach pain, helps with dysentery, diarrhea, and painful urinary conditions. Eggplant has also been used topically to treat frostbite and canker sores… talk about a multi-tasking vegetable…

I love mushrooms. In Chinese medicine, mushrooms ARE medicine. They are herbs. They are one of the most healing foods around. In China, mushrooms have been used for many years as part of a natural cancer treatment. They are one of the best immune-boosting foods around. I used both baby bellas and shiitakes in this recipe. Shiitakes are probably the variety of mushroom that I use most. I love the way they taste and they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These shrooms also promote healing and have been found to fight tumors. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are often fed to a patient who has just had surgery to help the healing process.

Zucchini cools your body off and makes you feel better during those hot days of summer. It helps your body release excess heat and it will make your mind feel more calm.

Basil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities. It also is good for settling your stomach, and it’s good at lessening the symptoms of the common cold and its accompanying cough. Basil is a spiritual herb — the scent actually calms you; you can boil some in a pot and let the aroma fill the air, you can just leave some around the house, you can toss a bunch in your bath water (I love to do this), or you can use an essential oil with basil to get some great calming effects.

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections.

Garlic is amazing in its antiviral and antibacterial capabilities. Garlic is actually a Chinese herb (Da Suan). It’s used to kill toxins and parasites and also to reduce swelling in the body. It’s what I call a great “A” herb: anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antioxidant, antiviral, etc….

vegan fettuccine bolognese

Vegan Fettuccine Bolognese
Author: 
Recipe type: vegan, paleo, pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Here's a great dish for all types of dietary habits: vegan, paleo, meat eaters, comfort-food lovers... this is really easy and satisfying!
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small eggplants, finely diced
  • 3.5 oz shittake mushrooms, caps finely diced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, caps finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely diced
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lb pasta of choice (I used Cappellos, grain-free fettuccine -- see above in post for link)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F convection setting, or 425°F regular bake setting.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Spread the eggplant, zucchini, and shrooms out on the sheets in a single layer. Drizzle oil over and toss a bit. Season with salt and pepper. (Try to keep each veggie in a separate area, so if one is done before the others it's easier to remove it from the sheet.)
  4. Roast the veggies in the oven until they start to brown and caramelize a bit. (Every oven is different, but my eggplant took 35 mins, the shrooms took 25 mins, and my zucchini took 20 mins.)
  5. Meanwhile, start the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then cook an additional 15 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes, then using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it's smooth. (Alternatively, you can transfer the sauce to a blender and whiz it up -- just make sure you hold a dish towel tightly over the top of the blender instead of using the canister top, so that steam can escape and you don't burn yourself.)
  7. Cook the pasta al dente, and drain it well.
  8. Toss the pasta with the tomato sauce and top with mounds of the veggies. Toss it all together if you like before serving.
  9. Enjoy!

vegan fettuccine bolognese